Photography

Photography and Me

The kid next door introduced me to photography the summer I turned 10.  We used his camera to take and develop b/w photos of everything we saw.  That winter my parents caved in and bought the Tower 120 mm twin reflex camera that I found in the Sears catalog.  With that trusty 120 I learned to photograph subjects near and far, fast and still, light and well, almost dark.

The next winter I read a novel about a young man who was a wildlife photographer.  What timing!  I thought that story had set the course for my life.  But life takes its turns and in time, photography became so familiar to me that my interest transferred from photography to the subjects.  In college I studied vegetation ecology and landscape dynamics and used photographs as a documentary tool.  Like every other snapshooter out there, I became a documentary photographer.

After college the old Bogan (now by Manfroto) tripod given me by my friend George Ballard, supported a succession of cameras and lenses.  Thousands of students at the University of Utah, Columbia University, and UCLA saw the slides.  Two books and numerous technical articles in academic journals and conference proceedings contain examples of the b/w work.

In 2004, I sold all my fabulous Zone VI darkroom equipment that had been funded by the U. S. Justice Department, gave away my Nikon, and switched to digital photography.  I am happy with the change, but a little sad for the tiny tics of memory on the thousands of b/w negatives and color slides that are sitting in dusty cardboard boxes awaiting eventual disposal.  Here’s some news.  In January, 2015 I began scanning slides and by March had gone through about 2,000 of the Kodachromes.

I selected the photos included here from the 30,000 or so taken since 2003.  They have some documentary value, but mostly they are just pretty or interesting.  I suppose that I am following the same impulses that motivate curators of all kinds to share their collections with others:  I hope you like the pictures.

Dates and Formats

My photos from before 1973 are scattered, and I have none of the negatives.  From 1973 through 2003, I photographed on 35mm b/w and Kodachrome.  After 2003, everything is digital in numerous formats.  The photos here are all JPEGS with minimum compression.

Garden Flowers

For almost 15 years, I succumbed to a weakness for large flowers and planted thousands of seeds, bulbs, and transplants around my house.  Dave, Denise, Michael, Monti, and Velita helped.  I’ll begin with the daffodils.

Other Subjects

  • Landscapes
  • Wildlife

Recent Posts

Some Weed Problems

Some Weed Problems Introduction

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) by Walter J. Pilsak

We know and love (or, more commonly, hate) weeds for their ability to spread to and cover bare soil exposed by fires, floods, plows, and garden spades. Like band-aids on skinned knees, weeds protect soil from erosion by wind and water. This is good, and should be good enough for us to be selective (not stereotyping) in our attitude toward weeds. But it isn’t. The reason for our persistent hatred is that weeds can compete with and replace crop and garden plants, they can replace native vegetation, and they can block vision and even travel. And, as you will see in the first article below, some weeds have toxic chemicals for defense and aggression and can inflict serious injury to grazers or innocent passersby.

Giant Hogweed (by Appaloosa)

People used to use the techniques of organic gardening to prevent and eradicate weeds. However, in the middle of the last century, science gave us herbicides, chemicals that interfere with weed growth and reproduction. What a pleasure to wave our spray wand over weeds and watch them shrivel and die. For decades, agricultural scientists have improved herbicides. They have even paired them with genetically modified crop plants that aren’t hurt by the magic spray that kills invading weeds.

Herbicides disrupt nature and cause cancer in humans. The chemical industry claims that reduced cost of food production justifies herbicide use. However, herbicides are growing stronger and farmers are applying them more heavily. This increases the harm to nature and human health.

Weeds are not defenseless against herbicides. Most of them produce seeds for the next generation in a single year, and this allows natural selection of herbicide-resistant plants within a few years. As described in the second article below, weed resistance is exceeding the power of the herbicides. As the gap between herbicide efficacy and weed resistance grows, farmers will return to the old organic gardening techniques. Though this will be less harmful to nature and people, it will increase the cost of farmed produce. Consequently, we may have to reduce meat production, a major consumer of farm crops, and, eventually, we will have to reduce human population size.

The articles below include recent discussions of weed problems.

Some Weed Problems References

Click for more on weeds.

  1. Conservation Easement for Coldwater Farm 3 Replies
  2. Livestock and Humans Have Replaced Most Wild Animals 3 Replies
  3. Toxic Pesticide Use in National Wildlife Refuges 9 Replies